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Duty to Protect from Sexual Assault

Published on April 10th, 2010

Contra Costa News had an article about another lawsuit where a nursing home did not protect a resident from a sexual assault.  At least one and possibly two other residents of the same nursing home were sexually assaulted by a man on the evening of Feb. 16.  A criminal investigation is ongoing, he said.

The lawsuit alleges the victim, identified only as Jane Doe, suffered elder abuse and neglect while living at Heritage Rehabilitation Center.  The woman was sitting in a wheelchair in her room when a man entered through an unlocked window, the suit states. The woman asked if he was a maintenance man and he said no. Then he sat on her lap and fondled her.  The "terrified" woman threatened to call for help, prompting the man to leave the same way he entered. He "said he would be back for her later," the suit states.

"Defendants conceived, implemented and carried out a scheme to place profits over people at the facility," the suit alleges. "Defendants intentionally underfunded and understaffed it in order to decrease expenses and increase profits."

"To our knowledge this guy hasn’t been found," attorney Morgan said. "This was an active time of the day and there was nobody anywhere, which supports our theory they didn’t have enough staff in there to look after residents or see people coming in from the outside."

Heritage Rehabilitation Center opened in 1974 and has 161 beds, according to a Web site that grades nursing homes operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The facility has 133 residents.  Among the deficiencies cited in November 2009 was a failure to "develop a complete care plan that meets all of a resident’s needs, with timetables and actions that can be measured." The deficiency, which affected "a few" residents, was corrected the following month.

"The purpose of us taking these cases is to hold the nursing homes accountable when they understaff and underfund the facility and put residents at risk," Morgan said. "We cannot undo what happened to this lady, but we can hopefully stop this from happening to somebody else."

 

 

Joe Pioletti
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